Vanessa Bryant took the stand on Friday in her legal battle against Los Angeles County over the alleged circulation of graphic photos from the site of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, Kobe Bryant, their daughter Gianna and seven others.
During her emotional testimony, the mother of four recounted the moment she heard about the March 2020 Los Angeles Times report that broke news of allegations that Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies had shared unauthorized images from the scene of the tragedy.
Vanessa testified that she was with her children at home when she found out about the report.
“I just remember not wanting to react, because the girls were there,” she said on the stand, per NBC News. “I said to my friend, ‘I can’t do this,’ and I bolted out of the room. I ran to the side of the house so the girls couldn’t see me, and I broke down crying.”
“I wanted to run down the block and scream, but I can’t escape,” she continued through tears. “I can’t escape my body. I can’t escape what I feel.”
Kobe Bryant & Gianna Bryant Memorialized With Statue At Crash Site On 2-Year Anniversary Of Tragic DeathsView Gallery
Vanessa additionally testified that she “felt blindsided, devastated and hurt” when she learned of the alleged capturing and spreading of the photos, saying she trusted LASD “not to do these things.”
“I live in fear every day of seeing on social media and having these images pop up,” she told the court, stressing that she doesn’t want her “children to come across them.”
“Capri has no relationship with them. She didn’t know what they were like,” she said of her and Kobe’s 3-year-old daughter, who was just seven months old when he and Gianna died. “I don’t want her to see these photos.”
Remembering Kobe and Gianna Bryant: Sweet Photos TogetherView Gallery
Vanessa sued LA County in September 2020 seeking damages for emotional distress. The lawsuit argues that her privacy was invaded when Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department deputies and fire department personnel allegedly shared photos of the crash site with others.
On the day news of Vanessa’s lawsuit surfaced, the LA County Sheriff’s Department shared a statement to NBC News.
“Shortly following this tragic crash, Sheriff Villanueva sponsored legislation which now makes it a crime for public safety personnel to take and share non-official pictures of this nature,” it read. “Due to the pending litigation, we are unable to offer further comment.”
Earlier this month, Mira Hashmall, an attorney representing LA County, argued in a statement to multiple outlets that “the case is about whether the county publicly disseminated crash site photos in violation of the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.”
“The answer is no,” the statement read in part. “From the time of the crash to now, the County has worked tirelessly to prevent its crash site photos from getting into the public domain. Over two and a half years later, no County photos have appeared in the media, none can be found online, and the Plaintiffs admit they’ve never seen them.”
Kobe And Gianna Bryant’s Celebration Of Life: Inside The MemorialView Gallery